Those who have worked their way up from a dental assistant position will most likely be employed as an office manager by the dental office. An Associate of Science (A.S.) degree program in dental office management would be a good option, but skills are learned on the job.
A.S. Programs in Dental Office Management
Vocational schools and 2-year community colleges are among the institutions that commonly offer associate’s degree programs in dental office management. Individuals who already hold a diploma or certificate in dental assisting and who seek management roles within a dental setting would find these programs eminently suitable to their goals.
Students enrolled in a dental office management degree program are taught about overseeing the daily business operations in a dentist’s office. They are taught about communicating with patients, managing electronic records systems, supervising a staff of dental assistants and handling basic administrative tasks. They are often expected to participate in a clinical externship program conducted at an actual dentist’s office.
Before applying to enroll in an associate’s degree program for aspiring dental office managers, are required to complete a diploma program that carries accreditation by the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation, or a dental assisting certificate program. Dental assisting diploma programs are offered by some schools within the coursework of dental office management associate’s degree programs. Both types of program are acceptable, although continued education through office management courses would be possible only if students had a background in dental anatomy, dental procedures and assisting techniques.
Coursework pertaining to an associate’s degree program in dental office management focuses mainly on business principles and management skills and may include subject areas such as:
•Dental insurance principles
•Medical billing and coding
•Human relations and communication
Job and Wage Outlook
In 2012, there were about 300,160 dental office managers employed in the United States (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In 2012, administrative services managers, including those employed in health care settings, took home an average annual wage of $88,660.
Additional certification is not compulsory for dental office managers to gain employment in the field. However, as all dental office managers are expected to have undergone training as dental assistants, certification for that position is required to be held by them. In many states, dental assistants are required to achieve licensure through passage of an exam. The Dental Assisting National Board administers the national certification exam that enjoys recognition in 38 states.